SOIL Attends International Permaculture Training in Cuba
This November a small team from SOIL traveled to the 2013 International Permaculture Congress taking place in Cuba to take a Permaculture Design Course (PDC). Permaculture is an ecological design system for increasing sustainability in all aspects of our lives from growing more food, restoring diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catching rainwater, and building communities.
Over the past year SOIL has increasingly incorporated permaculture principles into our agricultural programs in order to help Haitian farmers restore degraded top soil, fight soil erosion, support reforestation, increase adaptability to climate change, and increase and diversify rural incomes. This two week training course provided key SOIL agricultural staff with a chance to develop and refine their knowledge and learn knew skills critical for supporting Haitian farmers.
By Monika Roy, Romel Toussaint, and Jean-Marie Noel
The course took place in the beautiful countryside of Pinar del Rio, where we were able to enjoy some of the rich history or the island. The nearby caves offered a chance to see where Che Guevara kept his commandants, as well as providing a cool space to work and have lectures. The course involved some hands-on learning: for example, we made A-Frames to measure contour lines and slope of a terrain. We were also able to see how these techniques were applied on the land when we visited a nearby farm that had developed various food, animal, and water systems.Special thank you to the Permaculture Design Course teachers (Ron Berezan, Brock Dolman, Roberto Pérez Rivero, and Paulo Mellett), and our friends at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and the 11th Hour Project.
This PDC was unusual in the sense that it was very international, with participants from over 20 countries, and all lectures held in both English and Spanish. We were joined by three others from Haiti making a Haitian team of six people. English and Spanish speakers translated the material into Haitian Creole for the rest of the team, and we worked closely together as the course culminated into the final project design.
The final project required us to apply our newly gained training in ecological design.We worked with the staff of the camp to incorporate their dreams into into a plan for how to increase food production and tourism at the site. The last days of the course culminated in group presentations and the awarding of our new permaculture design certificates.
We are inspired and motivated to bring a new permaculture perspective to our work here in Haiti. And we will strive to continue to grow and work in a positive way that is both beneficial to the land and communities around us.